Sunday, August 13, 2006

Which Pack of Wolves Do You Claim Kinship With?

The one thing that amazes me about people is just how over the top rude they can be. Now usually I'm blessed with people being quite nice to me because that's how I am to them. I'm a strong believer that more often than not you get back what you put out.

However recently I had something happen that just irked me with how rude it was. I seriously wondered how this person was raised until I realized that she was Korean-Australian. Now there is nothing wrong with Koreans per se or with Australians per se, but I've found my dealings with the two Australians of Korean origin I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with to be particularly grating. I'm not sure why exactly. It might be that these two people just have personalities that irk me rather than it being a tendency of Korean-Australians to be rude and annoying.

This is the story. Everyone who knows me well knows that I have a particular weakness for fountain pens. This started when I was in middle school and I bought the cheap fountain pens found at almost any stationery store with the replaceable cartridges. Then in university they had some really slick and inexpensive fountain pens that had pink ink, and I just loved those. What that means is I got hooked very early on fountain pens. As I got older and my income increased the quality of what I wrote with increased. Thanks to a friend I also have a fountain pen that Paul Newman used in the The Hudsucker Proxy. Due to this love of fountain pens, I've managed to break a few and I even lost one. However, most of those breaks happened when I was using the ones that weren't particularly expensive.What that means is I'm pretty well versed in what happened when I see a damaged nib on a fountain pen.

During my last short-term job, two people asked if they could borrow my pen. Now I'm not weird about stuff and that might be weird in and of itself because only children are generally known to be a bit more selfish than everyone else (I don't think it's true, but I'm biased as I'm an only child). One person used it and gave it right back to me. So when someone else asked I didn't think twice and just handed her my pen. Well, I forgot she had it until I was home and went to use it. I sent her a text message reminding her that she hadn't returned it, and just said I’d get it the next morning. I was a bit worried as when I borrow something like that I remember to give it back, but I thought maybe I was being paranoid. I did get it the next morning, but when I went to use it a few minutes later, I uncapped it to discover that the nib had been bent out of shape.

I took a deep breath and decided just to talk to her about it when I saw her next. I have to say that the conversation was like talking to a child. I told her that she’d damaged the pen. She denied that she'd damaged it. However, I had the pen with me I showed her the damage and said I didn't give it to her in that condition. She said something about not being able to use it and so she had difficulty. Well, I'm thinking that's when you hand the damn pen back and/or ask how to use it. And, since she did neither I wasn't too happy with hearing "I'm sorry". What she left out is that sometime during her possession she either dropped it or it impacted something because the nib was bent inwards towards the body of the pen. That meant I could still use it but barely, and it started leaking ink.

You say "I'm sorry" when you bump into someone by accident on the subway. You don't just say "I'm sorry" when you break or damage someone's property. I was taught to say "I'm sorry" and then promptly offer to repair or replace the item. Just ask Jon Beuregard (sp?) for confirmation of this. I slammed his pickup truck into a wall in high school. I put the parking break down, turned it on while it was in first gear and it bumped the wall causing a dent. As soon as he gave me the estimate I went to the bank without my parent's knowledge and took money out of my savings account to cover the damage I'd done. I did later tell my parents, who weren’t pleased to have been left out of the loop, but they were proud I acted somewhat honorably and paid for the damage I’d done.

Anyway, she said she was sorry a couple of times. But profuse apologizing wasn't really what I was in the mood to hear. During her next attempt to apologize I cut her off by saying I'd I too would be sorry if I broke someone’s property, and that I'd said what I had to say on it. Essentially, it was my way of saying shut the hell up you irresponsible git if that's all you have to say to me.

Now it's a thing, so it's not like she set my house on fire, but it is a thing of value. So it got me wondering how people can raise a child to not have a concept of don't break someone's expensive shit. If you don't know how to use someone expensive shit, then don’t accept it or give it back before you break it. Lastly, if you do break it, then at least offer to pay for or replace it.

Right after I spoke to this irresponsible git about it, I had the misfortune of running into another co-worker on the way back to my class who asked me what was wrong. This person said it was my fault for loaning out an expensive item. I realize that there is a risk in loaning things to people, and I do take that into consideration. However, I don't want to walk around with cheap ballpoints or feel I have to guard my possessions like a miser. My thought is if I have to hold on to expensive items like they're the last possessions on earth then maybe I don't need them. It's a nice fountain pen, not a laptop and I figure if someone asks to use it, they know to use a certain level of care. I'd actually let someone use my laptop if I still had one too. I loaned someone my cell phone a couple of times. I just assume if an adult asks to borrow something they have had the training to be responsible with it. Yes, I know assumptions can sometimes get you into trouble, but it was a pen not a car.

I do assume these things about people, and I do realize that from time to time I’ll be disappointed. I assume they weren't raised by wolves especially if they come from societies with similar values and norms. However, with this one I'm more than sure she was raised by wolves because you don't do that and think saying "I'm sorry" is acceptable. When something like this disappoints me, I won’t sit back and say nothing.

Now I'm not sure how everyone acts in the Korean-Australian community, but the two women I've met have been nothing less than rude and infantile in many ways. Maybe it's just what you get when you're here in Korea in the expatriate community as there are some unique personalities from many different cultures and nations out there. Maybe it’s just what you get when you’re in a unique group of people. So my assumption will be that these two women are just excessively rude and they're both in need of a stint at finishing school.

I went and bought myself a nice new fountain pen today mostly because this summer I've had to work two short-term assignments back to back and in both I've had to deal with irritating people. Yesterday I treated myself to a nice bouquet of pink roses and today it was a new pen. I also sent the damaged pen off Waterman after service to get the nib replaced. So, it has ended well, it's just that dealing with morons like that is irritating to say the least.

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  1. I know EXACTLY which inexpensive pink-ink fountain pens you're talking about. I preferred the purple-ink ones. :) Wonder if those are still around?

    Glad it all ended well for you, but I know how you feel.

    If it'd been your laptop, I think they would have been more careful. People are usually aware of the value of a laptop. Unfortunately, in this day and age, most people do NOT know the value of a good pen.

    Stories like yours are why I (usually) carry at least two pens around:
    - the nice one that I never EVER loan out, even if it makes me seem rude, even if they just want to write a phone number on a scrap of paper, and
    -the cheap one that I will loan out and don't care if I never get back

    I'm polite almost to a fault, but there are certain things you don't get to touch, and my good pen is one of them.

  2. I haven't seen those cheap fountain pens for ages, so I have no idea. They were great fun to write with.

    You're right regarding always holding on to your nice pen. Usually, I'm the one with a purse with a full stock of pens, pencils and highlighters. So if someone asks they do get the cheap ballpoint, but I changed purses and was only carrying my nice pen. When the first teacher asked, like I said, she used it and gave it right back and I expected the same this time around.

    I should have known that things were going wrong when the other person took it, got distracted and then put it in her lap. I then got distracted as well, and that's the rest of the story because I don't think the nib got bent like that in class. I don't know if she didn't know the value of it, but even with someone's cheap ballpoint I take care of it. Plus, if she didn't know the value, why not offer to fix or replace it?

    Honestly, it's one of the lower priced Watermans, so I didn't really care about loaning it out in the first place. I'm willing to take it as a lesson learned. For me, this is one of those "on principle" stories. It's more of an exercise of when X happens you do Y. She didn't and that's what makes it a story to tell. It's just a lesson that I wish people wouldn't force me to learn because it ultimately further tarnishes an already damaged view of my fellow man.

  3. I'm anal about my fountain pens and don't lend them to anyone. I once heard it said that the softness of a gold nib means that it wears down to match the way the owner writes and that would be distorted by another user (like taking over somebody elses knitting and the tension going kaput) now I know that scribbling a phone number isn't going to ruin the nib of my pen - but it's the excuse I use whenever I'm questioned about why I won't lend it out :)

    PS My first degree was philosophy and Masters in Politics .... but you're at no risk of being forced back into bartending by me! Enjoy your course and good luck with the PhD.

  4. Yeah, I heard the same thing about nibs taking on the touch the primary writer. I too know it won't change that much if someone uses it to scribble down a note, but I'll have to use it to keep inconsiderate paws off of my nice pens. It's just a shame, really, because I'd like to be able to let someone use my nice pens if they ask. But no more, that's a done deal now.

    Thanks for your comment and I'm glad to know that I won't be forced by you back into a life of martini mixing. ;-)

  5. FYI: Those cheap fountain pens are still made by Pilot, with a slightly different look:

  6. Kewl...thanks for the link! I have to say that I might buy some just to avoid this problem because I'll NEVER loan out my "nice" pen again.

    I hear my mom's voice calling that girl a "heifer" almost anytime I think about it.

  7. I have a handful of fountain pens. Some are vintage pens I bought on Ebay, others are newer cheaper ones. But at any rate, I'd be pretty damn mad, too.

  8. Yeah well, now it's a few months after that happened and I still think she's a moronic twat.

    I'm just glad I've been lucky enough NOT to run into her since the end of that job.


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